I figured I write this because it was by far the worse experience I ever had with a service department. I have bought Toyotas all my life and I buy a new car every 2 years because I drive approximately 40k miles a year, so reliability is important for me. I figured I give an American a chance since everything I read seemed to indicate that American cars have improved since the 90's.
I just bought a brand new Pacifica Hybrid 2019 model on November 30, 2018 from Stevens Creek CDJR in San Jose. Sales process was great and it made me feel comfortable buying a car.
Last night on 12/4, four days into owning the car; the car would not start and on the dash it indicated "Service Transmission". I hear a grinding noise when I turn the shift knob and the car wouldn't move. The car had about 250 miles on it and now it would not drive. Keep in mind I have a 1 year old baby to make this experience more frustrating. I contacted the sales guy I bought it from and he gave me roadside assistance from Chrysler. At first I thought, "No big deal, let's get it looked at and then get it fixed".
Tow truck driver comes and says he can't tow it unless it shifts to neutral. So we call Stevens Creek Service Up, and the guy has no idea how to do it. He tries to get me to remove the engine cover and the airbox and then manually get into the cable to shift the transmission. The Service manager keeps telling me to find it in the manual but he couldn't even tell me where it was in the manual. At that point I was removing too many things I didn't want to proceed. He then calls the tow truck driver that Chrysler contracts out incompetent and I should get another towing company. How do I even begin to do that? Call Chrysler again?
I asked the service manager to see if he could get a tech to come out and help me with the manual shifting and they would not do it even though I was about 3-4 miles away.
Tow truck driver said the only way to do it now was to get a truck that would lift the wheels rather than flat bed. I read through the manual and Chrysler recommends flat bed as being the preferred way. I finally get the car towed after they got a different tow truck with dolly after 4 hours.
Then to add more to this, they only have 1 tech who is certified to work on the Hybrid! Now I'm going to be without the car for at least a week.
Any idea what this is? What actions can I take?
First off, I'm sorry about your experience. Its a bummer to start ownership on terms like these.
I'd like to say that this experience could happen with any brand. I work for BMW and right now have an 2019 i3s with 1200km (745mi) that had an identical experience.
Came out and car wouldn't start, wierd noises and called BMW Assist. They sent a flat deck truck but couldn't get it into neutral. Called us but we where unable to help. After a long time they got it on the truck and brought it in. We've had hybrids for years at BMW but there are only 2 of us quailified to work on HV systems.
This could have happened with any brand.
The difference here is that the flat deck operator should have skids to pull the vehicle up onto the deck when the wheels dont turn. Its like putting fast-food trays under your tires so they slide.
Strike 1, tow truck driver.
Secondly, its the tow drivers responsibility to extract a vehicle from whatever scenerio.. be it a ditch, pile up, stuck out a mile into the mud.. Calling the dealer doesn't get you far and is a cop-out by the tow driver. There really isn't anything we can do over the phone these days.. no magic ruby-red slippers 99% of the time.
Most of the time, you'd be talking to non technical staff, or non hybrid trained staff.. there is a reason only trained people work on hybrid vehicles and its because everyone else doesn't know anything about them. This is mostly an issue with early adopting of new technology. Sooner than later all technicians will be hybrid techs.
Strike 2, tow truck driver.
The problem with your vehicle.. Now that's up in the air still.
For my customers BMW i3s. I was on it within 1hr of its arrival and found it completely dead. I had to put dollys under the drive wheels and push it into the shop to diagnose the issue. And the end result was a rat chewed up the powertrain harness.
Strike 3, Mickey Mouse.
The tow companies aren't sponsored by the brand unless your in Europe typically.. they are local trucks that are closest to your location and in this scenerio I would have called Chrysler and tell them to send someone else.
Dealerships are workplaces and insurance doesn't allow us to "work" off site. And I'm sure it's even more serious of a situation in the states. Its unfortunate I know. Even if they did send someone there is little that can be done without repairing the vehicle most times.. very likely a waist of time when the tow driver should just bring it to where it can be repaired. I think even Rolls-Royce stopped road side assistance with exception to regions that don't have repair facilities like the Middle East or what not.. at which point they will fly out technicians with parts to repair your car.
I have a suggestion about the Owners Manual.. download the PDF version and use the search function for things your looking for.
Page 425 of the 2018 Pacifica Hybrid Owners manual, "towing a disabled vehicle"
You'll notice there are exceptions to flat deck trucks if unable to get Neutral in which case dollys is the recommended method. Which should be obvious to an experienced tow truck driver.